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Q & A: Invalid Wills

Question

Is a will automatically invalid if the testator, or maker of the will, had Alzheimer's or dementia?

Answer

First of all, challenging any will is a difficult process. Although a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or any kind of dementia may be very helpful and informative, it does not automatically void a will. In order for a will to be valid, the signer or maker of the will must have been competent at the time it was signed.

Virginia Courts have said that in order to be competent, or to have the capacity to make a will, the maker must have been capable of:

  • Understanding what he or she was doing in making the will
  • Knowing and understanding the nature and extent of the property that would be disposed of under the will
  • Being aware of who their relatives are and to whom the maker naturally would have wanted to receive their property
  • Understanding to whom they are actually giving their property

It is possible for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's to know and understand each of these factors depending upon the stage of their illness. Medical testimony is certainly important, but it is weighed against the observations of the people who were there at the time the will was signed.

Some people with dementia or Alzheimer's are particularly lucid and might be competent at one point in the day and become progressively more confused as the day wears on. If there are serious questions as to whether the dementia or Alzheimer's rendered the maker of the will incompetent and incapable of understanding what he or she was doing, you should speak to a competent and experienced will contest attorney as soon as possible.

Seek Help Today From Our Attorneys

If you have more questions about contesting an invalid will, you should set up a free consultation with our will contest lawyers in Virginia. Call (540) 318-7360 today.

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